Horses linked to drug cartel sold at Oklahoma City auction for $8.74 million
Most horses were cared for at a ranch in Lexington, OK, near Purcell.
One racehorse, A Dash of Sweet Heat, sold for $1 million.
The Cartel Straw went for $300,000 while Super Long Straw went for $200,000.
Overall, the top bidders at the three-day auction in Oklahoma City last week agreed to pay $8.74 million for quarter horses linked by the federal government to the Zetas, a violent Mexican drug cartel, records show.
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Those funds will go into an escrow account until after a trial next year in Texas for nine defendants accused in an indictment of involvement in a $20 million money-laundering conspiracy.
The federal government will get the money if there are convictions.
“Like all criminal organizations, the Zetas are motivated by money,” said Robert Pitman, the U.S. attorney who is prosecuting the case in Texas.
“Identifying and taking their assets is an important way to lay an ax to the root of the tree.”
“If successful, the forfeiture of these assets will represent a major step in our efforts to interrupt the cartel's activity within in the United States,” he said.
Ranch operator awaits trial
The key defendant awaiting trial is Jose Trevino Morales, 46, who operated Zule Farms, a horse ranch in Lexington. FBI agents in June arrested him and his wife, Zulema Trevino, at the ranch.
A federal grand jury May 30 reported he is the older brother of two leaders of the powerful Zetas.
The grand jury alleged his brothers sent millions of dollars in drug funds to him to purchase, breed, train and race quarter horses.
The two brothers, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, also known as “40,” and Oscar Omar Trevino Morales, also known as “42,” also were indicted but have not been arrested.
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